ROGAN JOSH CURRY
If you haven’t ever made your own curry paste then this is a great one to start with. My take on Rogan Josh made from scratch using my Creole dry marinade is packed full of flavour. You will be amazed at the end result and so will the family.
Now this is not a spicy curry by Indian standards. However, it does have a small amount of warmth on the palate, so by all means if you like it with a bit of kick feel free to add a bird’s eye chilli into the garlic and ginger mix. One of the best Rogan Josh curries I’ve ever had was in a little town called Shimla high up in the Himalayan foothills. Shimla (formerly Simla City) now the capital of the Himachal Pradesh state, northwestern India at an elevation of some 2169 metres, has breathtaking views of the Himalaya snowcapped peaks on the horizon.
Did you know? Shimla became India’s summer capital in 1864 and also the headquarters of the British Army in India. It gained popularity as a summer retreat of the British Raj because of its cool climate and scenery in comparison to the tortuous, stifling heat in Delhi. Spread over a series of steep hills, Shimla was first only accessible by a gruelling trek of many days on horseback.
The idea of connecting Shimla by rail with the rest of the Indian rail system was first raised by a correspondent to the Delhi Gazette in November 1847; construction of the Kalka–Shimla railway on 2ft narrow-gauge tracks was only begun in 1898 by the privately funded Delhi-Ambala-Kalka Railway Company following the signing of a contract between the company and the Secretary of State. The contract specified that the line would be built without any financial aid or guarantee from the government. The government, however, provided the land free of charge to the company. The Kalka Shimla railway opened in 1903 and is the finest example of narrow-gauge engineering skills, made particularly arduous in mountain terrain and a testimony to the audacity of the British Empire in India.
Standing on the now famous platform in Kalka to embark on the Kalka-Shimla UNESCO World Heritage journey with my parents-in-law and my wife, I take a look around and am reminded of just how incredibly beautiful India can be. We are waiting for the Thomas the Tank Engine-like steam train to arrive; we hear it chug chug chugging before we see it, then as it rounds the bend to my surprise it looks just like a toy. It is bellowing steam out the chimney and I’m delighted, as is Mum who can hardly contain her excitement. The train journey begins and we start to climb, with forests and valleys as far as the eye can see. ‘Chaaaaaaai Chaaaaaaaai’ I hear as the chai walla calls out in his sing song kind of way; I ask him for a round for all of us. Mum is super excited and is giddy like a little schoolgirl. "This has been a dream of mine,” she says to me for the 100th time. I enjoy the view and the sweet, spiced tea.
The train is 112-years-old, and its dark blue leather seats feel hard yet sturdy. As the train trundles along, a sense of gratitude washes over me and I am astonished at my fortune. The route twists and winds from a height of 656 metres at Kalka past the small villages of Dharampur, Solan, Kandaghat, Taradevi, Barog, Salogra, Totu (Jutogh) and Summerhill, to Shimla at an altitude of 2075 metres. The difference in height between the two ends of the line is a whopping 1419 metres. The wondrous thing about this train is that you can open the doors as the train is moving which means you get an absolutely stunning view.
When we arrive at Shimla I feel on top of the world, and it's cold. We are greeted by our driver who informs us we are the only guests at the 100-room hotel as it’s off-season. As we pull up to a massive grand old hotel, it has all the hallmarks of the movie The Shining, Mum jokes nervously in my ear. “You must be hungry”, quips our driver in excellent English. We have a feast awaiting you. “Would you like to eat in the dining hall or shall we bring it to your room?” Indians sure know how to feast and as I bit into the tender goat that was in a rich Rogan Josh sauce, I knew I would have to try and reproduce it. This is the result. Enjoy!
PREP TIME: 20 mins
COOKING TIME: 1 hour
1 brown onion diced
1 tbsp Water
GARLIC AND GINGER
3 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp water
ROGAN JOSH SPICE MIX
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
3 tbsps coriander seeds
2 tbsps CREOLE
4 tbsps oil
1/2 red capsicum, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsps canned diced tomatoes or 1 tomato, diced
600g lamb shoulder, cut into small bite sized pieces
1 1/2 tbsps natural yogurt
Salt to taste
Chopped coriander or mint leaves, to garnish
Place onion in a small food processor. Add water and puree to a smooth paste. Transfer onion puree to a small bowl. Set aside.
Place ginger and garlic in the food processor. Add water and puree to a coarse paste. Set aside.
ROGAN JOSH SPICE MIX
Heat a small frying pan over low heat. Add fennel, coriander and cumin seeds. Roast, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until aromatic.
Cool. Place in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind to a coarse powder.
Combine together fennel, coriander, cumin mix and CREOLE. Set aside.
LAMB ROGAN JOSH CURRY
Heat oil in a large casserole over medium-high heat. Add onion paste. Cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
Add ginger garlic paste. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
Stir in spice mix. Cook for 1 minute or until aromatic.
Add tomato paste and cook stirring for 2 mins add canned tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add lamb. Season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Stir yogurt into the curry and cover lamb with about 250ml of hot water. Bring to the boil.
Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered and stirring occasionally, for 30 to 40 minutes or until lamb is tender.
Garnish with chopped coriander and mint leaves.
Serve with buttery naan and basmati rice. Add some sides of creamy yoghurt raita, mango chutney or lime pickle to experience a true taste of incredible India washed down with an IPA.